Dr Scott is researching enzymes for environmental and industrial applications.
Dr Colin Scott: understanding enzymatic diversity
Colin is researching industrial and environmental applications for natural and altered enzymes. He is the leader of the Environmental Biocatalysis team.
21 May 2009 | Updated 28 June 2012
Dr Colin Scott is currently working on the discovery and improvement of enzymes with industrial and environmental applications.
In particular, Dr Scott is focused on enzymes that detoxify insecticides, fungicides and herbicides that potentially damage the environment and human health.
Part of this work is focused on discovering enzymes with new catalytic capabilities from organisms that are either very tolerant of certain compounds, or have recently evolved the capacity to use the compounds as a source of nutrients or energy.
Once suitable enzymes have been isolated, state of the art techniques are used to force the evolution of the enzymes to improve their utility; improving their stability, catalytic efficiency or other characteristics.
One good example of technology that has come from this work is the atrazine-degrading enzyme that was first trialled in 2008.
Hopefully a product based on this enzyme will be used as a safety net for natural environments, such as the Great Barrier Reef, from potential damage from herbicides like atrazine.
In addition to producing enzymes for environmental and industrial applications, this work is helping us to gain an understanding of the natural mechanisms that under pin evolution of new enzymatic activities and metabolic pathways.
Dr Scott is developing new and improved enzymes to detoxify insecticides, fungicides and herbicides.
Dr Scott joined CSIRO in 2004, before which he was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Sheffield United Kingdom (UK) researching the physiological and metabolic adaptations of bacteria that allow them to grow in many diverse environments, most of which would be lethal to more complex organisms (e.g. animals).
The ability to adapt to such diverse conditions has shaped the genetics, physiology and metabolism of the bacteria, as well as the enzymological and biochemical processes allow bacteria to survive under a wide range of environmental conditions.
This metabolic diversity is an enormous resource, and will undoubtedly provide many enzymes with scope for biotechnological exploitation.
Dr Scott holds the following qualifications:
- Bachelor of Science with Honours, in Genetics from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth (UK), 1996
- Doctor of Philosophy in Microbial Physiology and Genetics from the University of Sheffield (UK), 2000.
Learn more about CSIRO Entomology Research Projects.